Cotonou — The people of Benin voted on Sunday for a new parliament but without a single opposition candidate to choose from, as rights groups warn of a crackdown in a country once seen as a model for democracy. When polls opened at 7am local time, voters in the small West African state were given the choice to select their 83 members of parliament from two parties both allied to President Patrice Talon. In the run-up to polling, protests have been broken up by force. Late on Saturday, some roads were blocked by angry demonstrators in opposition areas. Internet access was tightly restricted, with blocks on the main social media and messaging apps.

Five million people are registered to vote, but on Sunday morning turnout was slow at voting booths in the economic capital Cotonou. The main opposition parties, unable to field candidates, have asked their supporters to boycott the polls. But Jacques Noutais from the Electoral Commission said the streets were quiet at the start of vo...

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